Bell Witch
Mirror Reaper


2.9
good

Review

by Xenophanes STAFF
October 17th, 2017 | 508 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Bell Witch return from their immaculate “Four Phantoms” with an album whose stuffy portentousness belies some of the band’s most stunning moments.

Listening to Bell Witch is typically a surprisingly effortless endeavor. As unwieldy as the 20-minute aural behemoths found on Four Phantoms are, they go down particularly smooth. Bell Witch are masters of making the un-listenable very listenable; crafting songs that test listeners patience while singing of bleakness and death to the point where it actually seeps into one's psyche. Mirror Reaper, unfortunately, does not hit the same highs that Bell Witch achieved with their breakout masterpiece. While a remarkable achievement in its own right, the band's attempt at an 80-minute sustained work suffers from the pitfalls one might expect from such ambitions.

Doom is a tricky genre to navigate because, unlike most forms of metal, its value is less contingent on technical ability or structured songwriting. Rather, its worth relies more on the emotive aspects of metal which seek to provoke feelings like despair, dread, and most importantly, awe. Bell Witch do this and they do it amazingly well. Mirror Reaper truly is full of awe inspiring moments that fill one with wonder and terror all the same. Yet for long stretches of this singular, monstrous track, Bell Witch disappear from the listener's ear far too often. Admittedly, it's a difficult task to maintain momentum strong enough to hold attention for extended bouts of drone and hollow reverb. Typically, during their 20-minute tracks, the band avoids this issue with a surprising dynamism that belies a strict adherence to aesthetic and theme. Mirror Reaper, on the other hand, wants so badly to feel like a single cohesive track, that it forgets to add any sort of unexpectedness or intrigue to make it worth while.

On that note, what Bell Witch have accomplished with Mirror Reaper as a single track must be commended, if only for what it achieves. The album, moreso than any other of its ilk, really does sound like one sustained track. Instead of melding an album's worth of material together and calling it "a big song," Bell Witch have composed an effortless and seamless work with absolutely no indication that any one moment was meant for anything else.

That being said, at times it feels like one of their 20 minute songs stretched out to be four times as long. The interludes meant as a brief respite are now extend upwards to five minutes. The beginning for example, drones on and on until the listener is begging for something to happen. Naysayers will argue that it's the point, and that doom is intended from long-form expression, but at times it feels like the band misses the point entirely for the sake of their lofty goals.

Mirror Reaper is a challenging album to listen to on multiple fronts. On the one hand, it is oppressive and deep music, wrought with heavy themes and even heavier aesthetics. On the other hand, it challenges the listener's patience with overcooked ideas that threaten to spoil what is otherwise an immaculately produced record. Were Mirror Reaper trimmed in the right places, it would compliment some of the outstanding moments that are present throughout. Instead, said moments are flashes of brilliance lost in a sea of noise.



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user ratings (130)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Xenophanes
Staff Reviewer
October 17th 2017


824 Comments

Album Rating: 2.9

Had a string of dece reviews that some people seemed to like so here’s something to make you hate me

Digging: Godflesh - Post Self

Evokaphile
October 17th 2017


5973 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I too was underwhelmed. Maybe I overhyped it but yeah, this didnt hit me as hard as I hoped it would

Digging: Chaos Moon - Eschaton Mmoire

BlackwaterPork
October 17th 2017


1815 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I disagree profusely

Digging: CunninLynguists - Oneirology

Gmork89
October 17th 2017


7353 Comments


That album art tho

Maco097
October 17th 2017


2460 Comments


Much better than Four Phantoms is not even funny.

DarkNoctus
October 17th 2017


10081 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

"Yet for long stretches of this singular, monstrous track, Bell Witch disappear from the listener's ear far too often."



this is where your review loses me, because i don't feel this way about this album at all. it keeps me enthused the entire way through. you mention interludes but i don't really feel like this album really has 'interludes' in the traditional sense. everything here feels very purposeful despite being very free flowing and restrained. if this album was cut down to a 20 minute track, or even 30 or 40 minutes, it simply wouldn't have worked.



your review is well written but i couldn't disagree more with your assessment. your loss i suppose. [:

robotmagician
October 17th 2017


510 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this didn’t hit me at all on first listen. maybe it’s jus not my thing but i’ll give it another go when i’m less distracted. new amenra is streaming though so that’s going to have my ear for a while

Digging: Dreadnought - Bridging Realms

BlackwaterPork
October 17th 2017


1815 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah it’s a shame it didn’t hit you guys as hard as me or noctus

Dinosaur
October 17th 2017


1107 Comments


This one has grown on me. Doesn't feel drawn out at all, however easy a statement it is to make for an 80+ minute track

XingKing
October 17th 2017


12477 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Also loved this after recently listening to Bell Witch for the first time about a week ago.

Evokaphile
October 17th 2017


5973 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I want to believe

ZippaThaRippa
October 17th 2017


10294 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Man I wish you were dead Xeno

ZippaThaRippa
October 17th 2017


10294 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Moreso now than ever before

AdolfChrist
October 17th 2017


13079 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Gonna jam this then fuck xeno with a ham fist

Digging: Palehorse/Palerider - Burial Songs

Hawks
October 17th 2017


51983 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Fucking Xeno fucking up again.

Digging: Gamma Ray - Land of the Free

zaruyache
October 17th 2017


17943 Comments


I got like thirty minutes in yesterday but it was all power chords and I got bored. :|

CaimanJesus
October 17th 2017


2939 Comments


You seem well liked around here

Digging: Disbelief - Disbelief

Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
October 17th 2017


2124 Comments


adverb usage in that first sentence makes me wanna cry but gud view otherwise

kingdedethefifth
October 17th 2017


4294 Comments


Xeno! I'm angry! Ahhhhhhh!!!

CaimanJesus
October 17th 2017


2939 Comments


that's too far dedes



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